Now Playing: The Kinks
If you've felt the itch to watch the "House of Cosbys" series of videos during the past few months, one of the only places to find them on the web is Waxy.org. Andy Baio, creator of Waxy.org, posted the parody videos by Justin Roiland on his blog in 2005 after he became obsessed with the series.
The videos lampoon Bill Cosby, depicting him in a foolish light as the subject of a cloning experiment gone terribly wrong. Cosby's legal team has been cracking down on the "House of Cosbys," asking bloggers to remove links to the videos. Most have complied, fearing legal action, but Baio has stood his ground and left the videos up. Andy also posted MP3s of an out-of-print Cosby comedy album called "Bill Cosby Talks to Kids About Drugs."
As Andy mentions in his post on Waxy.org today, Cosby's legal team sent him a nasty cease and desist letter (here's the PDF) which accuses him of "violat[ing] our client's rights of publicity," and "unfair competition" for hosting the videos and the MP3s. Even though the comedy album is out of print, Andy removed the links to the MP3s. He correctly notes that Bill Cosby owns the legal rights to the material, and that Cosby has every right to ask that the MP3s be taken down.
As far as the "House of Cosbys" videos go, however, Andy is leaving them up. He argues that the videos are satirical, and thus protected by the first amendment as free speech. Not only that, but Cosby is hardly a virgin target, so this legal action presents a rather blatant double standard. From his post:
More than anything, this strikes me as a special kind of discrimination against amateur creators on the Internet. Mad Magazine, Saturday Night Live, South Park, The Simpsons, Family Guy, and countless other mainstream media sources have parodied Bill Cosby over the years.
Andy apparently does have legal protection under the first amendment, but that's no guarantee that Cosby's team won't take legal action. It will be interesting to see if this ends up in court or not.